December 30, 2013

Mystery Revealed

Ben and Tarka made it to the South Pole last week, and their blog reveals why they were happy to come upon it at night and to spend no time there: it's not exactly a desolate or romantic place.

In short, I'm afraid to say -though it's probably quite apt- that I concur with Captain Scott himself when he said of the South Pole "Great God this is an awful place". For him, of course, there was nothing there at all. A patch of snow at the heart of a barren, deeply inhospitable continent. For us, it felt like walking into a cross between an airport, a junkyard and a military base. Or perhaps a scene that was omitted from a Star Wars film: skiing along with sacks swinging from our backs, futuristic mirrored goggles and hoods framed by coyote fur, we looked like two bounty hunters approaching some sort of outpost on a frozen planet...Anyone who thinks the South Pole station is all about bearded scientists releasing weather balloons and peering into telescopes is sadly mistaken; the place is a giant logistics hub geared, it seems, mainly around the vast quantities of fuel needed to keep this outpost heated and powered all year round, and to quench the thirst of the Hercules aircraft we saw sat on the snow runway.